17 March 2011

Pebble Watch: A user’s guide

The Pebble Watch team has put together a brief profile of who we are, what resources we provide, and what you can expect from us in the future. You can either view the presentation in the frame below, or download the powerpoint to your home computer (requires Microsoft Powerpoint). The information is also available in Adobe PDF format by clicking this link.

Pebble Watch is an impartial, educational and fact-based initiative of the BBNC Land Department to disseminate information regarding the proposed Pebble Mine project to BBNC shareholders and interested parties. Pebble Watch does not attempt to integrate or interpret data; this would occur during an Environmental Impact Statement process. Instead, we seek to help BBNC shareholders better understand data by providing summaries as well as context, such as how the data may be used in the permitting process and how it relates to regulatory benchmarks.

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08 March 2011



Nondalton (non-DOLL-tun) is located on the west shore of Six Mile Lake, between Lake Clark and Iliamna Lake. Nondalton is a Tanaina Indian name first recorded in 1909 by the U.S. Geological Survey. The village was originally located on the north shore of Six Mile Lake, but in 1940 growing mudflats and wood depletion in the surrounding area caused the village to move to its present location on the west shore. It is a Tanaina Indian (Athabascan and Iliamna) village with residents following a fishing and subsistence lifestyle.


Information sourced from the Alaska Division of Community and Regional Affairs Community Information Series.

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Newhalen (NOO-hale-en) is located on the north shore of Iliamna Lake, at the mouth of Newhalen River. The 1890 census data listed the Eskimo village of "Noghelingamiut," meaning "people of Noghelin," at this location, with 16 residents. The present name is an Anglicized version of the original. The village was established in the late 1800s due to the bountiful fish and game in the immediate area. Newhalen incorporated as a city in 1971.
Newhalen includes Yup'ik Eskimos, Alutiiqs and Athabascans. Most practice a subsistence and fishing lifestyle. Newhalen and Iliamna share a post office and school.


Information sourced from the Alaska Division of Community and Regional Affairs Community Information Series.


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Pedro Bay


Pedro Bay (P-droh) is located on the Alaska Peninsula, at the head of Pedro Bay and the east end of Iliamna Lake. Historically, the Dena'ina Indians have occupied this area. The Dena'ina warred with Russian fur traders over trade practices in the early 1800s. The community was named for a man known as "Old Pedro," who lived in this area in the early 1900s. A post office was established in the village in 1936.

Information sourced from the Alaska Division of Community and Regional Affairs Community Information Series.

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Igiugig (ig-ee-UH-gig) is located on the Alaska Peninsula on the south shore of the Kvichak River, which flows from Iliamna Lake. Kiatagmuit Eskimos originally lived on the north bank of the Kvichak River in the village of Kaskanak and used Igiugig as a summer fish camp. At the turn of the century, the inhabitants moved upriver to the present site of Igiugig. People from Branch also moved to Igiugig as it began to develop. Today, about one-third of residents can trace their roots back to the Branch River village. A post office was established in 1934 but was discontinued in 1954. Commercial and subsistence fishing sustain the community.
Historically an Eskimo village, the population is now primarily Alutiiq and residents depend upon commercial fishing and a subsistence lifestyle. Sport fishing attracts visitors during summer months.

Information sourced from the Alaska Division of Community and Regional Affairs Community Information Series.

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Naknek is located on the north bank of the Naknek River, at the northeastern end of Bristol Bay. This region was first settled more than 6,000 years ago by Yup'ik Eskimos and Athabascan Indians. In 1821, the original Eskimo village of "Naugeik" was noted by Capt. Lt. Vasiliev. By 1880, the village was called Kinuyak. Naknek has a seasonal economy as a service center for the large red salmon fishery in Bristol Bay. In 2009, 105 residents held commercial fishing permits, and several thousand people typically flood the area during the fishing season. Millions of pounds of salmon are trucked over the Naknek to King Salmon Road each summer, where jets transport the fish to the Lower 48.


Information sourced from the Alaska Division of Community and Regional Affairs Community Information Series.

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03 March 2011

Pebble Watch Newsletter February Issue

This issue of Pebble Watch focuses on the Pebble Partnership’s data release “Report Series F: Surface Water & Groundwater Quality,” an overview of surface water and groundwater quality data collected between 2004 and 2007 in the Pebble Project deposit area, Iliamna Lake and along the proposed transportation corridor. Here, we present a summary of the report, explain how the data relates to permitting, highlight some water quality issues related to mining, and supply answers to questions community members first asked Pebble developers in 2005.

0211-pw-newsletter-v003  (PDF 1.13Mb)

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01 March 2011

Bill introduced to Congress aims to cut EPA authority

On January 26, 2011, Alaskan Congressman Don Young introduced H.R. 517, a bill amending the Clean Water Act to eliminate EPA's authority to deny or restrict the use of disposal sites for dredged or fill material. The legislation was originally introduced in the 111th Congress as H.R. 5992.

Pebble Watch readers may be interested in H.R. 517 because BBNC and Pebble Mine opponents have asked EPA to use its authority, granted under Section 404(c) of the Clean Water Act, to "carefully tailor a prohibition on the discharge of dredged or fill material from the proposed Pebble mine."

Currently under the Clean Water Act, the United States Army Corps of Engineers is authorized to issue permits for depositing dredged or fill material into an area designated as a disposal site. Section 404(c), however, authorizes EPA to restrict, prohibit, deny or withdraw the use of an area as a disposal site if there will be unacceptable adverse effects on municipal water supplies, shellfish beds and fishery areas.

The bill was presented to the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure on January 26 and was then referred to the Subcommittee on Water Resources and Environment. On the same day, West Virginia Representative David McKinley introduced legislation (H.R. 457) to stop EPA from retroactively vetoing existing permits. On February 3, Senator Joe Manchin from West Virginia submitted similar legislation called the EPA Fair Play Act (S. 272), which aims to prevent EPA from revoking permits that have already been granted.

Follow the bill's progress through Congress here, or check back with Pebble Watch for updates.

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14 February 2011

EPA to review proposed Pebble Mine project for water quality issues

Last week, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced plans to conduct a scientific assessment of the Bristol Bay watershed in order to better understand how future significant development projects may affect the water quality and salmon populations. EPA stated its assessment was initiated after Native Tribes and others, including Bristol Bay Native Corporation (BBNC), petitioned EPA in 2010 to use its authority under the Clean Water Act, Section 404(c). BBNC asked EPA to "carefully tailor a prohibition of the discharge of dredged or fill material from the proposed Pebble mine," to prevent "an unacceptable risk of irreparable harm to water, fishery and wildlife resources."

EPA's assessment will focus primarily on the Nushagak and Kvichak watersheds. It will examine the effects of hard-rock mining projects, as well as consider the effects of large-scale development in general.

EPA has stated it will accept and consider public input during development of the watershed assessment. A public comment period usually lasts between 30 and 60 days; a public hearing is usually held during the comment period.

Check back for updates regarding timelines for public hearings and comment periods.

Read the press release from EPA.

Read an editorial about EPA's decision in The New York Times: The Risk to Bristol Bay.

Read an article about EPA's assessment in the Anchorage Daily News: EPA: Agency simply monitoring, not halting Alaska development.

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04 February 2011

Forum encourages conversation and curiosity

The Iliamna Development Corporation held a two-day meeting at the end of 2010 where people from Native villages Igiugig, Iliamna, Kokhanok, Newhalen and Nondalton assembled to discuss the particularly divisive Pebble mine project.

The prevailing them of the meeting turned out to be educational, as community members spent their time asking questions of the government agencies, Native corporations, and industry consultants in attendance, according to a November 18 Bristol Bay Times article that covered the gathering. Subjects discussed included information about permitting mines, how communities and other Native corporations are working with mining companies, and how citizens should use the permitting period to voice their comments and concerns.

"We are pleased to see this level of interest, which means the kind of discussion that needs to go on is happening," said Tiel Smith, Land and Resource Manager at BBNC, who attended the meeting.

While not a substitute for the voice of the board, Pebble Watch is BBNC's outreach to the community on the Pebble development. This resource was created to be an objective sharing of information, providing a clear, fact-based focus. We commend the community leaders for arranging this high-quality event and will be looking forward for another opportunity for more complete interaction with community members. Plans are underway to bring Pebble Watch to even more communities, as promised at the meeting.

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